WASHINGTON The Democratic Party is aiming to include support for gay marriage in its party platform this year for the first time in its history, a Democratic source said on Monday.
The platform drafting committee unanimously approved language on Sunday endorsing same-sex marriage among the policy positions that will be presented to the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where President Barack Obama will formally accept the party's nomination in early September to run for re-election.
The approval was first reported in The Washington Blade, which said the language also rejected the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.
The Obama administration said last year it would no longer support DOMA. Obama's Republican opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, is a gay-marriage opponent who supports the statute and promises to defend "traditional marriage" if he is elected on November 6.
In May, Obama became the first U.S. president to say he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The largest U.S. civil rights group, the NAACP, has also endorsed gay marriage, saying the fight for gay rights is a civil rights issue.
Six U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, but 30 have banned it.
The 15-member Democratic Party platform drafting committee met in Minneapolis during the weekend. A draft will be considered in Detroit on August 10, and it will then go to convention delegates for final approval.
Religious conservatives, an important component of the Republican Party base, staunchly oppose gay marriage, but polls show support for the issue rising, especially among younger Americans.
(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney)